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Galactic Habitability and Sgr A*

31 May 2018, 16:55 UTC
Galactic Habitability and Sgr A*
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Yesterday I looked at evidence for oxygen in a galaxy so distant that we are seeing it as it was a mere 500 million years after the Big Bang. It’s an intriguing find, because that means there was an even earlier generation of stars that lived and died, seeding the cosmos with elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. It’s hard to imagine the vast tracts of time since populated with stars and, inevitably, planets without speculating on where and when life developed.
But as we continue to speculate, we should also look at the factors that could shape emerging life in galaxies like our own. Tying in neatly with yesterday’s post comes a paper from Amedeo Balbi (Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”), working with colleague Francesco Tombesi. The authors are interested in questions of habitability not in terms of habitable zones in stellar systems but rather habitable zones in entire galaxies. For we know that at the center of our Milky Way lurks the supermassive black hole Sgr A*, whose effects must be considered.
Such black holes are known to produce vast amounts of ionizing radiation in the highly visible form of quasars or active galactic nuclei (AGN). ...

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